What is the Best Rifle Scope for a .308? – Buying Guide and Reviews
Winchester introduced the .308 Winchester in 1952. Since then it has grown into one of the most popular hunting cartridges around the globe. With some minor changes, it even morphed into the 7.62 NATO which is close.
- 1 What is the Best Range for the 308?
- 2 In a Hurry? – Best Scopes for 308 Rifles
- 3 What you need to consider for the Best .308 Scope
- 4 The Best Scopes for a .308
- 4.1 Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 3-12×42 – Overall Best Scope for the .308
- 4.2 Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm – Best Scope for Hunters
- 4.3 Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x50mm – Best Low Light Hunting Scope for the .308
- 4.4 Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm – Best Tactical Scope
- 4.5 Leupold FX-II 4x33mm – Best Fixed Magnification Scope
- 4.6 Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm – Best Specialized .308 Scope
- 4.7 Vortex Optics Viper HST 6-24x50mm – Best Long-Range Scope for the .308
- 4.8 NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm – Best Low-Light Scope for the .308
- 5 Conclusion – Best .308 Scope
Before looking at these hunting optics, let’s have a closer look at the rifles. The .308 specifies the diameter of the bullet. This certainly means that a rifle shooting a bullet with this diameter must have a matching bore.
The confusing part is that the .308 rifle designation means to use a specific cartridge. There are other types of ammunition that use a .308 diameter but where the cartridge is different.
An example is the .30-30 Winchester Model 94. The bullet diameter is .308 inches in diameter but it’s not a .308 rifle. The cartridge for the .30-30 is different and is specifically geared for long-range shots.
You might wonder why this is important to point out. The reason is that the scope you’re looking at needs to match the rifle and the type of shooting performed with it.
What is the Best Range for the 308?
The .308 is useful for short, medium, and long-distance shooting. This means you would want a scope that works for those situations.
One other thing to remember is that the .308 is often used for tactical shootings. That’s why some top-notch scopes for this cartridge are also known as sniper scopes. This does in one way mean that you couldn’t use such a scope for hunting big game.
In a Hurry? – Best Scopes for 308 Rifles
If you are in a hurry… Here’s the list of the best 308 rifle scopes. Click on the link to find the current pricing and customer reviews on Amazon!
- Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 3-12×42 – Overall Best Scope for the .308
- Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm – Best Scope for Hunters
- Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x50mm – Best Low Light Hunting Scope for the .308
- Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm – Best Tactical Scope
- Leupold FX-II 4x33mm – Best Fixed Magnification Scope
- Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm – Best Specialized .308 Scope
- Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24×50 SFP Riflescopes – Best Long-Range Scope for the .308
- NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope – Best Low-Light Scope for the .308
What you need to consider for the Best .308 Scope
With the .308 being often used for long-distance hunting and shooting you need to take a few aspects into consideration when you’re trying to buy the best scope for your rifle. These are namely that the scope needs to match the distance you’re shooting, it has to be durable and sturdy, easy to use, and shouldn’t break the bank.
Each of these aspects is explained in more detail in our Ultimate Buying Guide for Riflescopes. Please check it out to learn more about all the important items you have to consider before you buy a riflescope!
The Best Scopes for a .308
The list below is our pick for the best scopes for the .308 for various shooting and hunting needs.
Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 3-12×42 – Overall Best Scope for the .308
The Vortex Optics Diamondback HP is a great rifle scope for your .308. In our opinion, it’s the overall best scope for 308 rifles you can get as it combines excellent optics for a reasonable price.
The Diamondback HP series is the high-performance version in the line of Vortex Optics scopes. It combines outstanding mechanical and optical features into a sturdy scope that can stand the abuse of heavy recoil and the beating it takes when you take your rifle on hunting trips.
This specific Vortex Optics rifle scope comes with a one-inch tube with 3-12x magnification. This allows for both close distances to long-distance shots. The objective lens is a generous 42mm in diameter which helps to get a clear and vibrant image at higher magnifications.
The reticle is on the second focal plane. It’s a BDC reticle that works well with a 308 rifle.
The glass on this scope is multi-coated. It provides brilliant clarity across the whole magnification spectrum. The scope is built to be fog, water and shockproof. It has no problems handling the recoil of a .308 and holding zero across many shots.
The scope has a 4″ eye relief which is plenty to deal with the .308. The field of view (FoV) is between 28.8 (3x) – 8.2 (12x) feet at 100 yards. This is in line with other scopes in that magnification range.
The turrets are capped to prevent accidental changes. Windage and elevation can be adjusted in ¼ MOA steps for a maximum of 90 MOA each! This provides enough adjustment range even for long-range shots. The side focus is easily accessible for best image focus and parallax removal between 30 yards to infinity.
Another great feature of the Vortex scopes is that they come with their unlimited warranty. This scope comes at a great price for what you get and you can’t really go wrong. If you are more into longer distances, then use the 4-16x42mm version instead.
- Superb glass clarity and coating
- Excellent quality materials and design
- Lifetime warranty
- A little on the heavy side
Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm – Best Scope for Hunters
Undoubtedly, Leupold knows how to make good hunting optics. The Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm is not an exception to this rule. It is overall the best scope for 308 rifles for hunting.
The Leupold VX-2 rifle scope comes with super-clear glass lenses that allow you to use it even in low-light conditions. Therefore, it’s a great pick for hunting where you encounter less than perfect lighting more often than not.
The scope produces a vivid and clear image that helps tremendously with acquiring a clear shot onto your target. In Leupold fashion, you also get multi-coated lenses that reduce glare and keep the glass clear under all circumstances.
Windage and elevation on the Leupold VX-2 can easily be adjusted with a single finger while you keep your game in focus. Adjustments are ¼ MOA per click. The overall adjustment range is 52 MOA for both elevation and windage.
The eye relief on this 308 scope ranges from 3.7 to 4.2 inches depending on the magnification settings. The field of view ranges from 34.6 feet @ 100 yards at a 3x magnification to 14.6 feet @ 100 yards at a 9x magnification level.
The reticle is positioned on the rear plane and it’s not an illuminated reticle. The positioning on the rear focal plane works well for long-range shots.
- Impressive capabilities during less than perfect lighting conditions
- Vivid and clear image
- Lens edges blackened to reduce glare
- Sturdy construction
- Dials can freeze
Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x50mm – Best Low Light Hunting Scope for the .308
The Nikon Buckmasters II series is an overall affordable, reliable, and capable family of rifle scopes designed for hunting. The 3-9x50mm is specifically interesting as it provides the most common magnification range and combines it with a rather large objective of 50mm.
This provides the scope with outstanding capabilities in non-optimal lighting conditions as the large objective allows a lot of light into the scope. This improved light transmission makes it the best scope for 308 for hunting during dusk and dawn and in otherwise challenging lighting situations.
The scope is built solid and with high-quality components and pairs well with a 308 rifle. It handles the recoil well and stays zeroed without a problem.
The glass in this scope is multi-coated and provides an excellent image. The eye relief is a generous 5 inches making it a great pairing for rifles with heavy recoil. It, therefore, is truly a great match for the .308.
The BDC reticle is a good match for the performance of a .308 rifle. It’s on the rear focal plane making the scope a good choice for medium-range hunting.
It offers a solid field of view of 35.6 feet at 100 yards at a 3x magnification and an 11.7 feet FOV at 100 yards when using a 9x magnification. The turrets allow for easy adjustment of windage and elevation in ¼ MOA steps. The overall adjustment range is a great 80 MOA for each elevation and windage.
The scope sports a 1-inch tube that is built from highest grade aluminum to withstand any abuse during a hunt. It’s waterproof and fog proof and has a light transmission of up to 92%.
- Best low light capabilities in this price range
- Great quality construction with easy-to-use turrets that hold zero well
- Clean and bright glass
- Nikon lifetime warranty
- Focus issues at very close ranges
Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm – Best Tactical Scope
Bushnell is known for its high-quality scopes that pack solid components and innovation. And the Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm makes no difference. The magnification designation alone shows that you are looking at an interesting scope here. You won’t find many other scopes with a magnification range like this.
The scope is built solid and has no problems dealing with the recoil of a .308. It features a 30 mm tube which allows for lots of light to get through the scope.
The optics are multi-coated which helps with the vibrancy of the image. The tube is argon purged to prevent fog from building up. The scope is overall fog proof, waterproof, and shockproof.
The turrets are zero-reset and are easy to adjust. The scope holds zero well even with heavy recoil and is a good choice for the .308. The dials allow adjusting in ¼ MOA steps. The overall windage and elevation adjustment range is 78 MOA.
Eye relief on this 308 scope is 3.9 inches. While that’s not bad, it could be slightly higher for a rifle with heavy recoil. The reticle is positioned on the 2nd focal plane.
The field of view is 42 feet at 100 yards with a 2.5x magnification. At the highest magnification of 16x, you have a 7 feet FOV at 100 yards.
The scope offers a mil-dot reticle which makes it the perfect choice for tactical use. The magnification allows for use for long-range shooting which makes it a great match as a scope for 308.
- Great overall quality
- Large magnification range
- 30 mm tube
- Nothing that’s worth mentioning
Leupold FX-II 4x33mm – Best Fixed Magnification Scope
You won’t need or even prefer variable magnification for your .308, then look at the Leupold FX-II. For many shooting situations, you won’t need a variable magnification range. You have less moving parts and overall sturdier scope.
The Leupold FX-II 4×33 provides a fixed 4x magnification. The objective size is 33mm which sounds less than scopes with variable magnification but as the magnification is fixed, this diameter is sufficient.
The main scope tube is made from aircraft-grade aluminum and has a one-inch diameter. The tube is nitrogen-filled to make it fog-proof. It has a duplex reticle which makes it easy to line up shots.
It works sufficiently well in lower light settings. The reticle is positioned on the rear focal plane. Second focal plane reticles are usually a good choice for hunting uses.
The scope is built sturdy and holds zero well. The turrets are low profile and you can adjust elevation and windage within 80 MOA. The dials adjust in ¼ MOA steps and are easy to adjust.
The scope is waterproof and shockproof and built to withstand the abuse in the field. It’s designed for tactical and hunting environments and works well as a scope for 308.
- Sturdy build to withstand abuse in the field
- Easy to use reticle
- Fixed magnification only
- Somewhat limited in challenging lighting conditions
Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm – Best Specialized .308 Scope
The Nikon M-308 is a great optic for shooters and hunters needing a long-range scope. The best feature though is that you get a high-quality scope that is specifically designed for the .308. There are no compromises you need to take when you get this scope for your .308.
Nikon is known for its high-quality glass and overall scope construction. The M-308 is no exception to this. The tube sports a 1″ diameter and is made from aluminum. The glass is fully multi-coated and allows up to 95% light transmission.
The magnification range is more than enough for medium to long-range shooting. The objective lens is large enough to allow a lot of light to get into the scope.
They equip the Nikon M-308 with a fast focus eyepiece that enables you to quickly acquire your target. The .308 has a bit of recoil and the scope could need a little more for eye relief. The eye relief ranges from 3.7 to 4 inches and it would not hurt to have a little more.
The field of view at 100 yards is 6.3 – 25.2 feet depending on the magnification settings. The adjustment range for windage and elevation is 40 MOA. This can end up being a little on the low side when you’re performing a real long-range shot as you might run out of adjustment range.
The BDC reticle is positioned on the second focal plane. The reticle is calibrated for the 308.
The scope is water, shock and fog proof as you would expect from a Nikon scope. Reviews found online from hunters and shooters that use this scope for 308 are overwhelmingly positive.
- Fogproof, Waterproof, and Shockproof
- Magnification range for medium to long-range shots
- Top-quality optics and lenses
- Easy to adjust
- Designed specifically for the .308
- Fast focus eyepiece
- Internal adjustment range reaches its limits on very long-distance shots
Vortex Optics Viper HST 6-24x50mm – Best Long-Range Scope for the .308
The Vortex Optics Viper HST 6-24x50mm provides top-notch optics at a reasonable price point. Being a Vortex scope you can rely on it being rock-solidly built. Vortex backs their scopes with one of the best warranties you can find.
The Vortex Optics Viper HS-T lineup is designed to be a multi-purpose scope for all hunting (H), Shooting (S), and Tactical (T) uses. Here the 6-24x50mm version provides excellent magnification for long-range shooting and making it the best long-range scope for a 308 rifle.
The scope tube measures a solid 30mm in diameter and is made from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum. In combination with the 50 mm objective lens, you will get a lot of light onto your lens to get a clear and vibrant sight image.
Vortex Optics uses extra-low dispersion glass for the lenses to guarantee excellent light transmission. The lenses are fully multi-coated with different layers of coatings to reduce glare and reflection.
The eye relief is 4 inches which is a solid amount for mounting the scope onto a 308. Long eye relief like that reduces any chance of scope bite even if your rifle has some heavy recoil.
The reticle sits on the second focal plane. You can get the Vortex Viper HS-T scope with the VMR-1 reticle in either MOA or MRAD measurements.
This is a great scope for long-distance shooting. The picture clarity even at the highest magnification makes it easy to acquire a target and make a long-range shot with the Viper HS-T.
- Great quality construction and material
- Specifically designed for long-range shots
- Precise adjustments
- Some few people mentioned that they ended up having a hard time getting a clear image on 24x
NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm – Best Low-Light Scope for the .308
NightForce scopes are overall some of the best scopes you can find on the planet. Many shooters and professionals swear by them.
Even Chris Kyle was known to use NightForce scopes for many of his shots. They build their scopes specifically for situations that put a lot of demand on the quality of the optics.
The Nightforce SHV 5-20x56mm is a great long-range optic. The very large objective lens provides superior light penetration into the tube and makes it our pick for the best low-light scope for 308 rifles.
You get a scope with ultra-clear glass and multi-layered coatings. There’s basically no better image you can get from any other scope on the market.
Magnification starts at a 5x level and goes up to 20x making it a scope that’s designed for long-range targeting. The reticle on this scope for 308 is positioned on the second focal plane.
This is not a cheap scope, but it’s worth every penny. However, it’s not the best fit for commonly available hunting rifles that are based on the .308 platform. It only makes sense to get this scope if you are going for long-range shots with a specific rifle that supports those shots.
- Outstanding quality
- Ultra-clear lenses producing a superb image
- Excellent light transmission
- Great capabilities for long-range targeting in challenging lighting situations
Conclusion – Best .308 Scope
There’s no clear winner in this comparison. Each of the scopes shown has its strengths and weaknesses.
The Nikon M-308 might overall be one of the best scopes as it has a wide range of scenarios in which it can be used on a .308. However, Nikon only lists this scope in the ‘Archived’ section which means it’s not built anymore. You can still find it online and at retailers though.
The overall best scope for 308 rifles is the Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 3-12×42. It offers the best compromise between capabilities and price.
If money doesn’t play a role then there’s no question go with the NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm. For long-range shooting and hunting, you have to have a closer look at the Vortex Optics Viper HST 6-24x50mm. You’ll have a hard time finding a better scope for the price that matches the 308 that well.
Otherwise, if you need more specialized scopes, then match the ones from our list up with your shooting needs and pick the one that is the closest match for your needs. Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of the scopes as they are all built well and are good matches for your .308!